On June 13, 2011, my family was vacationing in a church member’s condo on the Atlantic Ocean a few miles north of the Kennedy Space Center. We had been to NASA once before but enjoyed it so much that we wanted to visit again. So, we hopped in the car and made the trip.

As we made our way through the complex, we visited the IMAX theater and saw some Hubble telescope pictures of the universe. Through the technology of 3D, we ‘traveled’ through space to visit stars and galaxies thousands of light years away. We saw pictures of former astronauts. We viewed life size models of rockets and moon vehicles. We also read posters and plaques that contained the rich history of NASA.

But, there was one ‘machine’ that was the crowning achievement of NASA. It was the Space Shuttle. The incredible technology of that machine and it’s massive power are enough to cause an overwhelming sense of awe to overcome anyone who watches it launch.

While we were there, we took some pictures of our boys near some Shuttle models. The picture to the  right shows a 5 years old Joseph standing in front of a fiberglass model. It sure looked a lot like the Space Shuttle on the outside but everyone knew it wasn’t the real deal. There were no tiles on the underside of the glider. The ‘windows’ on the glider were obviously just decals. But, it looked enough like the Space Shuttle for Joseph to enjoy posing with it for a picture.

Then, we saw another Space Shuttle model that had an opening in the right side that allowed people to enter it and look around. It looked much more real! It appeared to be life size. The windows for the cockpit were simply painted on but it had tiles on its underbelly that made it’s appearance seem much more authentic. 

Yet, even this space shuttle wasn’t real! NASA couldn’t take it to the launch pad and send it into space. It had the appearance of reality but it clearly lacked the power.

But then, we took a bus ride to a tower near Launch Pad 39A. We took quite a few flights of stairs and then saw a breathtaking scene! Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) was sitting on the launch pad. It would be the very last Space Shuttle to be sent into space.

You can’t see it too good in this picture because it was also covered up to protect it from the weather until launch day. (Click on the picture to the left to increase it’s size. The top of the orange main fuel tank is visible.) Yet, the scene brought an overwhelming sense of awe that the fake Shuttle models we had seen earlier in the day just didn’t produce.

Why? Because the Space Shuttle sitting out on the launch pad was the real deal and it had raw power. It wasn’t a fake. It didn’t just appear to be real. It was completely authentic! And it had the power to prove it!

Christianity is like that. There are some whose ‘religion’ is just about appearance. They just put on an outer show to impress others. They try to live a good life, at least good enough for others to think highly of them. Yet, they lack the real internal power to live out a life pleasing to the Lord.

Followers of Christ are supposed to have power. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believers…” Yet, the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy and warned him in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 that in the last days of earth’s history, people would “(have) the appearance of godliness, but denying its power…” (v. 5)

That simply means that in an increasingly sinful world (see verses 1-4), there will be those who appear to be followers of Jesus who have never truly been saved. Outwardly, they appear godly. But inside, there has been no heart change. They haven’t turned their back on sin and surrendered their life to Jesus. The Holy Spirit is not within them bringing about powerful, life change to make them more like Jesus.

When you boil it all down, that’s really how you and I know if we’re saved. It’s not whether we act like a Christian and everyone else thinks we are saved. It’s whether we have the power of Jesus working inside us to make us more like Him. If we don’t, we’ll never spend eternity in Heaven.

Those fake Space Shuttles were really useless when it came to taking the ride into space. Yet, the Space Shuttle Atlantis was the real deal. It had incredible power at work inside of it! A few days after I took the pictures of it sitting on the launch pad, it took the ride into the heavens much like the video below of a Space Shuttle Atlantis launch I took four years previous.

So … are you the real deal? Is your “Christianity” only about externals? Are you content that you attend church periodically, put money in the offering plate, offer up a couple of short prayers throughout the day, spend a few minutes in your Bible, etc. Or is your Christianity vibrant because you are enjoying walking through this life with God’s Holy Spirit inside of you providing the power to enable you to become more like Jesus?

The answer to that question determines whether or not you will one day, when you walk through death’s door, launch into the heavens!